Commodore Perry dropped a 50-47 contest to the Panthers, while the Big Red rolled over Linesville.
By BILL ALBRIGHT
NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. -- The Mercer County Athletic Conference gained a split Friday at Buzz Ridl Gymnasium in the opening round of the District 10-A basketball playoffs.
Sheffield downed Commodore Perry 50-47 before West Middlesex beat Linesville 63-45 in the late game.
Sheffield led the whole way in its win, but Commodore Perry (17-7) hung around for the first dozen minutes, trailing by three midway through the second period.
But Sheffield scored eight unanswered points and then took a 33-21 lead at the break.
"That first half really killed us," said CM coach Jay Carlson. "We couldn't get any defensive rebounds and we didn't protect the ball. As a result, they were getting a lot of stickbacks. We just didn't box out."
Fouls hurt: Commodore Perry's 6-7 postman Josh Sindlinger picked up his third foul less than a minute into the second quarter and had to watch the rest of the half from the bench.
"It really hurt having him (Sindlinger) sitting along side of me because that gave them a lot of second and third chances," said Carlson.
The Panthers tied the game with 4:44 left, but Sheffield scored six straight points to lead 48-42.
The Panthers cut their deficit to 50-47 and had a chance to tie the game.
"Toward the end, we had to start playing the foul game," said Carlson. "Sometimes that happens in games when a team has the lead on you, but we had a chance to tie it. We wanted (Eric) McCullough to take the shot because he is our best shooter."
Sheffield's Ryan Steffan led all scorers with 15 points and Jeremy Borst added 12.
For the Panthers, Josh Nagel scored 14, and McCullough and Sindlinger each added 11.
West Middlesex 63, Linesville 45: The first quarter had a pair of ties and seven lead changes and finished in a 14-14 tie.
"I think the problem in the first half is that we didn't do a good job of stopping the dribble and we didn't close out on their shooters," said WM coach Chad Mild.
"In the second half, we played better on the defensive end, but the big key was that our guards played great basketball."
West Middlesex took a 20-15 lead, but Linesville (14-11) hung around to regain the lead (27-26) on eight points by Dan Hauskar who finished with 13 -- all in the first half.
The Big Reds bounced back to score the final eight points of the period for a 34-27 lead at the break. Middlesex's Tyler Babcock scored 11 of his 21 points during the quarter.
Stepping up: "He (Babcock) just did a great job," said Mild. "We told him earlier this week that we needed a strong low-post presence."
West Middlesex was able to dictate the tempo of the game down the stretch, eventually taking a 20-point lead.
"I sort of thought it would be a grind-out first half," said Mild. "We are not the type of team that is going to come out and blow somebody out. Our approach is to take it quarter by quarter and try to win each quarter."
Buzard scored 15 and Luce added 14 for the Big Reds. For Linesville, Hauskar led a trio of players in doubles with 13 points.
West Middlesex (19-6) will now face Sheffield (19-6) in the semifinal round next week.
The site and time of that game will be determined by District 10 officials.